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Abstract

Creative writers often express misgivings about entering ‘the academy’. A teaching job is both lure and menace: if they could choose, many writers would doubtlessly prefer a more abstract version of academe, with their own work figuring on university reading lists rather than their actual presence required in university seminar rooms. Sometimes it seems as if it is for their experience of writing books, rather than for the books themselves, that writers are encouraged to become teachers. The book is evidence, but of the wrong kind: proof that the writer can grasp practicalities as well as transcend them, proof of her conscious workmanship rather than her unconscious creativity. This conscious control of writing is what can be shared, analysed, taught, but it is not what actually motivates a written work. If the writer writes books in part to be liberated from herself – to create an external version of herself from which she can disappear – then as a teacher she may find that self concretised and made visible instead.